The Preliminary Hearing is the first step in the legal process.
After you are stopped and charged with a DUI, you will either be released or arrested on the spot. If you are released, you will receive a Summons in the mail from a local Magistrate with a date for your Preliminary Hearing, information regarding your arrest, your right to find legal counsel, the formal Complaint filed against your, and a date to be fingerprinted.
You must attend your Preliminary Hearing. If you do not attend, the Magistrate will issue a warrant for your arrest and you will be taken to jail. You also must get fingerprinted at the date and time specified in your Summons. If you have a problem attending either, you must let the court know as soon as possible. Do not wait.
At your Preliminary Hearing, you will have three options:
- Plead Guilty to the offense charged or a lesser offense.
- Have a probable cause hearing where you will force the Prosecutor to show the Magistrate that he/she has at least a probable likelihood of success proving you committed the crime (a very low standard).
- Waive your case into the formal trial process that will continue in the Court of Common Pleas.
It is here that an experience attorney will be able to evaluate your best option. If this is your first DUI offense, you will be eligible for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). In this case, you will want to waive the Preliminary Hearing to the Court of Common Pleas and ask the Prosecutor to recommend your case for ARD. If this is a second, third, fourth DUI, etc... this will be the opportunity for your attorney to negotiate a plea bargain with the Prosecutor or challenge your charges applying any number of defenses based on your particular facts. This is the beginning of what we hope to be a short and painless process.
At Morrow & Artim, we offer a no cost, no obligation review of your DUI or criminal law matter via a short telephone consult or an email reply. If both you and our firm agree that legal representation is required, an in-office appointment will be scheduled.Call Morrow & Artim today at 412-823-8003 to obtain the legal help that you deserve.